Media relations

Prep for Partridge: 6 ways to navigate through a tricky interview

Written by Matt Smith

21 March 2019


Alan Partridge is back on our screens, conducting media interviews, and all is well with the world. Well, for half an hour on a Monday evening his new show, This Time, makes me feel life isn’t all that bad.

He’s a national treasure, whose incessant awkwardness results in excruciating exchanges with his guests and colleagues. Alan’s car crash interviews are a staple of his output and it got me thinking – how could you prepare for an interview with a character like Mr Partridge? Well…

  • Know the outlet

    Is Alan’s new show really the best opportunity for you to broadcast your message to the world? Does it have the right audience, or has it come from a scattergun approach to pitching a story? It’s important to know it’s the right place to be for your business and isn’t simply ticking a big KPI-shaped box.

  • Do your homework

    Know what makes Mr Partridge tick and speak on his terms. Read his recent articles, watch or listen to his recent interviews and get to know his interests (Twitter activity is a good starting point for this – not his collection of Bond films or issues of What Car magazine). Do all you can in advance to find his “level”. It will build rapport and keep the conversation natural.

  • Stay alert in media interviews

    Don’t get drawn in by Alan’s unnecessary detail. He rambles. It could be a smokescreen – a brilliant technique for disarming interviewees. For any other interviewer it would be. Stay focused. Keep your key talking points and messages in mind and make a mental note to refer back to them.

  • Deploy the grandparent test

    Would a non-technical person understand what you’re talking about? If not, simplify it. Cut the jargon. I’ve been in plenty of interviews with old-school tech and telco journalists who love to try and catch out clients with overly technical language. Avoid this. Focus on making your story relatable to the end user.

  • Nothing is off the record

    If you say or agree to go “off the record” Alan’s ears will prick up. Always keep the conversation 100% on the record. A client once had a briefing with a well-known BBC journalist. At the end of the interview, the journalist them aside and I heard him whisper the dreaded words “off the record”. I intervened, told them my client won’t speak off the record and averted a potential crisis.

  • Keep it real

    It may sound obvious, but tell the truth. It will only come back to bite you if Mr Partridge has done his research and can see through your fabrications – he’ll take great joy in it too.


With all this said and done, it’s then time to leave gracefully. Say your goodbyes and exit with a friendly handshake. If you’ve been interviewed on radio, podcast or film, remove the mic and turn it off before you relax. And make sure any follow up actions are noted and that they happen!